So… I started sheltering-in-place this month, so I’ve been reading a ton because of the free time and because it’s a go-to when I’m stressed. If you need good books, please consider purchasing them from your local indie bookstore, or using your library card to access ebooks. I have multiple library cards, and I’ve been using them a ton for their ebooks.
Reading in the sunlight has been an unexpected joy, and the tight neck from reading so much an unexpected pain, lol. Other unexpected pleasures have been revisiting some old faves that you’ll see below!
The Queen’s Bargain by Anne Bishop (Black Jewels #10)
I haven’t dipped my toes in this universe in probably 10 years. I had some apprehension because of Spoilers, but man oh man am I glad I picked this up. In all the stress of shelter-in-place it was such an immense joy to revisit this world and its characters. There’s never been another fantasy world quite like it.
The Chaos Curse by Sayantani DasGupta (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #3)
I stand by my previous reviews. Smart, funny, feminist. A fun blend of pop culture, myth, and a physics-based magic system.
When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
Okay, I’m recommending this just because I see so much of my experience in a women’s college here. Down to the parts that seemed ripped straight (har har) from my life.
Guilty Pleasures by Laurel K. Hamilton (Anita Blake #1)
Much like the Black Jewels series, I started reading this series 10+ years ago. Hamilton pioneered the urban fantasy genre, and she wrote one of the earliest mainstream depictions of polyamory I encountered. I stopped reading around either Skin Trade or Flirt because I found the whiplash between book genres too great; one book would be mostly erotica, and the next a hardboiled detective story.
But just like the Black Jewels universe, man oh man do I miss these characters and their world, and revisiting them was a joy. Guilty Pleasures reads just as well now as it did then, and it reminded me of what I loved about the series: the mix of UST and urban fantasy. (Fun fact: I can’t read mystery, but I love urban fantasy which is often a detective story but with magic. Go figure.)
And the characters: Anita struggling against herself, Jean-Claude charming as all hell (I’d totally forgotten the story involved a psychic bond), batshit but lovable Edward. I hated Richard’s guts, but I might keep reading for Nathaniel and Micah.
The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert (Dirty Talking Brits #1)
This was free earlier in the month, and I binged this in one go. Hot, fun, and unafraid to talk about familial abuse. While I enjoyed Get a Life, Chloe Brown, it’s The Princess Trap that sealed the deal for me on Hibbert and sent me tearing through her back catalog. Also the dedication is amazing.
Shadow of the Bat Girl by Sarah Kuhn & Nicole Goux
This just pulled at my heartstrings for reasons I don’t fully understand.
Honorable Mention: The Iron Will of Genie Lo by FC Yee
This one gets an honorable mention because I cried at the last chapter.
Joan Summer (of Jezebel)’s interview with Kiki Kitty and Farai Simoyi, Next In Fashion’s Eliminated Designers on the Fight for the Soul of Streetwear
“Simoyi: They take our ideas and then try to resell them to us as if it’s their ideas. That’s what really pissed us off in that instant.
Kitty: It’s ghetto until proven fashionable.”
Dr. April Warren-Grice’s Show Don’t Tell: Decolonize your classroom, syllabus, rules, and practices
It’s a short article, and I’d excerpt all of it. Great ground rules and questions to consider, not just for educators!
Kai Cheng Thom’s We Need Pleasure-Centered, Trauma-Informed, Body-Affirming, Transformative Justice-Based Sex Education
“Nobody wants to admit that they have caused sexual harm. But there is a vast range of sexual harms, from misreading the signs and hugging someone when it isn’t wanted, to intentionally targeting someone and overriding their consent (and different transgressions may have different impacts from person to person). I truly believe that every sexually active person has committed or will commit some form of sexual harm in their lifetime. We need to find a way to talk about this, so that we can own our actions and be accountable for them — without immediately spiralling into either brushing sexual harm under the rug or outright disposing of anyone who is named as a perpetrator.
If we cannot develop and implement a way for people to recognize and name sexual harm from the perspectives of both survivor and perpetrator, then we will never be able to create a society in which people take active ownership of their sexual learning. We will instead maintain the current social norm, in which most people choose to either totally ignore the notion of sexual consent entirely, or deflect responsibility for sexual harm onto “everybody else” without seriously engaging with their own behaviors.”
Ariel Vittori’s guest column on Oh Joy Sex Toy, “Daddies and Littles”
I’m always a sucker for white space, and the section here that uses it is gorgeous.
Lauren Dyson’s Unbreakable
I watched all of Carole and Tuesday last week, and the pop songs are great, this one especially.
Nai Br.XX & Celeina Ann ft. Lauren Dyson’s After the Fire
“after the fire, new maps are drawn
Nothing to cry for, new dreams are born
Out of the ruins, flowers will grow
People rebuilding, stone by stone”
Another song from Carole and Tuesday. This is the only song from the titular duo I actually liked. And the lyrics gets me in my feels ok.
Spotify recommended her to me (not to be confused with the Amber Simone sans hyphen). Really digging her music, and will check out more from her. It has a retro feel, and definitely sets a mood. I like Something More, Mountains (Stripped), and Taught Me Better.
You probably know Jessamyn Stanley from the yoga world, but I’m enjoying this advice podcast from Stanley as well. Each episode has 2 versions, a short tl;dr version, and a longer sprawling version (XL version).
Domme Nation, ep 3 dungeon
I just really like how into it the sub on the far left is. Also, gives a great example of asking for consent in the middle of an encounter while still being sexy. Videos comes with subtitles. Note: this is behind a paywall on Savage’s Patreon
Hear To Slay
Roxane Gay and Tessie McMillan Cottom’s first season just concluded, and now is a great time to binge it. Note: episodes are behind a paywall on Luminary.
LeVar Burton Reads, Saladin Ahmed’s “Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride”
The music! The Western twang! I’m not a Western fan, but I really loved this. If you prefer reading, the original story can be found here (which includes an alternative reading). Ahmed’s Patreon here.
Reveal, episode “Quarantine Nation”
This episode included a segment from KALW’s Uncuffed, with men from the Solano Prison discussing Coronavirus and incarceration. It’s a quick listen (11 minutes), and what stood out to me was that we already know what happens when disease hits the prison; it happened with the Legionnaire’s outbreak at San Quentin back in 2005.
Alicia Garza and Ai-jen Poo’s first season just finished. It was a surprising mix of guests ranging from Chani Nicholas to Dawn Lyen-Gardner.
Where Should We Begin
They’ve started a new mini-series with Esther Perel counseling couples who are under stress during Coronavirus. Which in part feels ripped-from-the-headlines, but it’s still the same fascinating and voyeuristic show I love.
Cherish the Day, Season 1
Ava duVernay makes a romance novel but on TV. I cried during this. The season’s done, and I’m very curious if they’ll be a season two and if so, what it’ll look like.
Handmaiden, dir. Park Chan-wook
This was a rewatch, and man I still love it. I love the twisty narrators, I love that women triumph, I love that women save one another, and Sook-hee’s anger at Hideko’s abuse.
Mad Max Fury Road, dir. George Miller
A rewatch as well! The scene Max hands Furiosa the gun and she shoots it off his shoulder continues to make me swoon. But I was also unexpectedly struck by feels at how fiercely these women want to be free, and how the old (patriarchal) world must die.
National Theatre Live Presents Jamie Lloyd Co.’s Cyrano de Bergerac
The spoken word! The pining! The word play! The searing UST! The subtextual homoeroticism being mad textual! Gimme the OT3 fanfic!
NTL was screening this in movie theatres, and now that that’s no longer an option, here’s hoping they’ll stream it on their Youtube channel. In the meanwhile, trailer’s here, Thirst Aid Kit episode about it here, and textual homoeroticism gif set here.
Ilona Andrews’ short snippet of Roman from the Kate Daniel series
“When you said you were a priest of an evil god…”
“Dark god,” he corrected out of habit.
If you’re familiar with Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, check this out. It’s nice to revisit these characters, and poor sweet Roman trying to date.
Alyssa Cole’s newsletter, Girls with Glasses
I love Cole’s romance books, and her newsletter is a great and includes book/TV show recommendations and cute animals. She also just launched a podcast to go with it!